ASX 200 lunch time report: ANZ, CBA, & Westpac shares lower

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) shares have been acting as a drag on the ASX 200 on Wednesday…

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At lunch the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is on course to build on yesterday's strong gain despite weakness in the banking sector. At the time of writing the benchmark index is up 0.2% to 6,016 points.

Here's what has been happening on the ASX 200 on Wednesday:

Commonwealth Bank reports $4.7 billion interim profit.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) share price is almost 2% lower on Wednesday following the release of its interim results. For the six months ended December 31, CBA posted a cash NPAT from continuing operations of $4,676 million. This was a 1.7% increase on the prior corresponding period. The bank held firm with its interim dividend at $2.00 per share.

Bank shares lower.

The rest of the banks have dropped lower today following their stellar gains on Tuesday. I suspect profit taking could be the reason why the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) share price is down 1.8% and the Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price is almost 2% lower.

IAG result impresses.

The Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG) share price is up 4.5% at lunch following the release of its half year results. The insurance giant may have posted a 49% decline in cash earnings to $319 million, but it appears that the market saw a few positives in there. A note out of Goldman Sachs reveals that it was pleased with stronger underlying trends and its CET1 ratio.

Lithium miners push higher.

Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY) and Orocobre Limited (ASX: ORE) shares have surged higher this morning following an update on lithium pricing by Mineral Resources Limited (ASX: MIN). The diversified miner and mining services company revealed that the sale price for 6% spodumene concentrate shipments for the March 2019 quarter at its Mt Marion Lithium Project will be $US791.84 per dry metric tonne. While this is a 15% quarter on quarter decline, the market had feared even sharper declines for the battery making ingredient.

Best and worst performers.

The best performer on the ASX 200 at lunch is the Viva Energy Group Ltd (ASX: VEA) share price with its 13% gain. The fuel retailer's shares surged higher after signing a new agreement with Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL). Going the other way is the Janus Henderson Group PLC (ASX: JHG) share price which has fallen 3.5% following its results release.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro owns shares of Galaxy Resources Limited and Westpac Banking. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of COLESGROUP DEF SET and Insurance Australia Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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